The world has come a long way in the last twenty years. With the arrival of the internet and the surge in social media platforms, the digital age has given tremendous opportunities to all age groups.
Teens and young adults are courageous, creative and bold. These attributes make them fantastic potential entrepreneurs. Before the internet age, children across the world were coming up with innovative ways to earn some extra money. We’ve seen children set up juice stands on their front lawns, serving refreshments to weary travellers in exchange for hard cold cash. Kids setting up car washing services for their neighbours, taking on the jobs that time stretched adults would rather do without.
Our children are incredibly good at finding what a consumer wants and making it happen.
The Arrival of the Internet Changed Everything
Now, not only can the younger generation come up with ideas, they can access everything they need at the touch of a button. The world is their oyster, and instead of making a few bucks selling to their neighbours and friends, they can build a healthy turnover selling to the whole world online!
While adults can struggle to get their heads around website builds, content writing, marketing and advertising, children pick up these skills in seconds and make it look a breeze. They have the ability to buy a domain name, build a website, access an e-commerce agency and utilise free advertising platforms like Tik Tok and Instagram. And unlike adults, they have access to a substantial social media driven audience with time on their hands, other children. While this demographic may not have an income, they do have parents with an income. So getting your brand out to 30,000 teenagers across the world, is more than a success if your brand is right!
With all this in mind, should you encourage your teenage children to embrace their creativity and go into business, or are you worried it could be a pipe dream that could impact their education and understanding of the ‘real’ world?
The ‘Real’ World as We Know It, Isn’t What Our Children Know
Most adults are behind the curve when it comes to the digital culture we now exist in. Take one moment to look around you now and ask yourself how much you are relying on the internet. If you are reading this, then you are already on the internet. You probably found this article via a social media post. Which you read on your phone. As adults, we are sort of tourists to social media, but children really are part of a digital culture, and that is the world they grew up in. So to them, it’s the real world. There are endless possibilities for them, including generating income and future career opportunities.
Starting a business during their holidays or when they finish school, could help them save for college. Just because they have generated an income, doesn’t mean that they are going to quit school and live the good life. Our children are more intelligent than that. In fact, they’ve probably worked out for themselves that being at college will offer another form of free advertising. One young entrepreneur raised over $200,000, making a cardboard arcade in his summer holiday, he used the money to fund his college career!
Another reason to encourage your children is to help them learn it isn’t as easy as it looks. You can’t create a successful business without working hard. Even then, sometimes, hard work isn’t enough. Not every idea they have will lead to success, so providing you aren’t pouring lots of money into it, you could be teaching them how to handle failure. This is a valuable life lesson which will help them learn to deal with situations throughout their life.
Setting up a business teaches children to research, plan and build. Planning is the first stage of setting up any new business, so you could help your child with this. If they need a little bit of capital to start things off – such as a few dollars for a domain name – you could ask them to pitch the idea to you, teaching them valuable communication skills which will help them at college or through their careers. Unless the business does work out and they find themselves sitting on a future global brand!
You Do Need to Be Realistic
You know your child, and it may be they have a history of wanting to do something but don’t have the commitment to see it through. So it is essential not to throw money into their ideas. Watch them put the hard work in, if they get impatient with the early stages then it’s unlikely they currently have what it takes to see it come to fruition. This can be frustrating to young people, who are used to having everything in an instant – one drawback of the internet is the quick fix it offers us. If we want something new, we can get it with minimal effort.
Your role is to help them be realistic but without being negative. Challenge their proposals and help them rework ideas. Spend time teaching them how to plan, budget and work out contingencies. Before any money is spent, they should have a whole brand and route to market ready to go on paper.
Try not to steer them too much, remember that there is a lot our children can teach us, so let them lead the way. It can be hard to let go of control, especially when you don’t understand the concept or the vision. If they can explain it to you and get you to see it, they can deliver the message to anyone.
The future is theirs to own. The experience they will have learning about business at a young age will be highly valuable for the world ahead. Even if they don’t make a success of the idea, the process will be a success.